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  1. #41
    Senior Member Rich Schmidt's Avatar

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    Re: Denomination wants building back

    Quote Originally Posted by G R 'Scott' Cundiff View Post
    Interesting article about a Presbyterian church building fight, similar to what what has happened in our own. In this case the church is generations old and the building is valued in the millions of dollars. Frankly, I think I could argue either side of the debate. What do you think?

    http://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/201...MIJ/story.html
    Having now read the article, I think this particular church had the opportunity to leave back in the 1980's when the "trust clause" was introduced saying that property can't be taken from the denomination... but they didn't. They objected, but they went along with it. It's in their bylaws. It sounds like they followed the denomination's process, didn't like the outcome, so they decided to ignore it and try to leave anyway.

    My guess is that the denomination will keep the building, and the "conservative faction" (that has become the majority of the church as the church's membership has dwindled) will have to either get along or move along.

    Having just written the above post, I kept seeing in the article the importance of the pastor's leadership. This current "acting pastor" seems to be so out of step with the rest of the denomination that it's no surprise that this is what's happened. It's sad for me to read him quoted as saying the denomination has "no legal right" to the building, when it seems clear that they do.

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    Senior Member David Troxler's Avatar

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    Re: Denomination wants building back

    I hadn't read the article either until today. Now that I have, I can see part of the problem is the desire by some among that particular congregation to emulate the success of the Highrock churches that have sprung up in and around Boston. There is one in Quincy not far from ENC and a number of students seem to have migrated there for worship during the school year.

    Highrock does some wonderful things. They have an attractive model for younger adults and if the local Presbyterian church members see the decline of the number of younger adults and a rising number of older folks, many of whom cannot or will not in the near future be able to sustain the church, seizing on Highrock's approach almost seems like a no-brainer.

    Almost, except for the pesky part about already being Presbyterians.

    We live in a sub-culture of the greater national culture that cuts ties and does its own thing whenever we feel like it. People ask where the commitment of others is today. It is this commitment to independence to decide for oneself. Rules that have existed tend to be viewed as obsolete. What the lawsuit is about is whether or not those existing rules are indeed obsolete.

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    Senior Member Jeremy D. Scott's Avatar

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    Re: Denomination wants building back

    Quote Originally Posted by David Troxler View Post
    I hadn't read the article either until today. Now that I have, I can see part of the problem is the desire by some among that particular congregation to emulate the success of the Highrock churches that have sprung up in and around Boston. There is one in Quincy not far from ENC and a number of students seem to have migrated there for worship during the school year.
    It goes even further: An ENC grad is planting a church in Brockton. I'm not sure if it'll be in the Highrock network or not (I believe so). But it will be in the Evangelical Covenant Church.

    Quote Originally Posted by David Troxler View Post
    Highrock does some wonderful things.
    Indeed, Highrock is a great church with some great people. They are participant in our NCM, Friends of the Homeless, in our "Home with Friends" program.
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  4. #44
    Senior Member Craig Laughlin's Avatar

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    Re: Denomination wants building back

    Quote Originally Posted by Rich Schmidt View Post
    Yep. I agree. And we pastors play an outsized role in shaping people's perceptions when it comes to our local church and what it means to be part of it. You have a much tougher context than many of us, though it seems that you're just a few years ahead of where the rest of us are heading at some point. Our mission field is ever changing.
    I agree it is largely up to pastors. There are fewer and fewer people who consider themselves Nazarene more than local church members. My struggle is always what does connectional look like in my environment? I tend to come down on theology, accountability and extending the reach of our church mostly compassionate ministries and missions.

    My difficulty is the culture/reputation/behavior of Nazarenes. Just last Sunday I found myself apologizing for Nazarene's because a couple in my church that travels a lot decided to visit a small Nazarene church while on vacation. They are both big personalities, dress very well and look very cosmopolitan. They had only heard my version of Nazarene and they got the shock of their lives. Evidently they had time warped to 1950. Add to that public scandals and the fact that both the baptists and the Lutherans in my community think we are a cult... We are about to distance ourselves in terms of marketing with a name change. I love my church but they do make it hard sometimes.

    I really don't think "connectional" can look like it did when I was growing up but I'm not entirely sure what it does look like. If I'm really honest it was the culture that created the sense of connection and oneness among older Nazarenes. If all we have is shared theology, rules of accountability and some missional cooperation we probably are more of an association than a denomination, but you didn't hear that from me.

    Quote Originally Posted by Rich Schmidt View Post
    I planted our church, and since we don't have "Nazarene" in our name, I have to do some extra work to make sure people know that we're connected, what that means, and the ways that it's a good thing. I have to occasionally lift up examples of the ways we're connected and say things like, "I'm so glad we're part of this global network of churches! It means that whether you know it or not, you're already supporting work among refugees fleeing the violence in Syria." Etc, etc, etc.
    There has been some pushback from old line Nazarene's in my church about our name change. The thing I tell them is that the new name reflects our mission and I want to be able to tell people what a Nazarene is, not the pastor down the street. There are some huge advantages to not starting the relationship as Nazarenes.

    Quote Originally Posted by Rich Schmidt View Post
    While grumbling might start in the congregation at large, any serious conversation about leaving a denomination is going to happen among the leadership, both pastoral staff and church board. At that level, you'd better believe we have to be clear on property issues! We bought our first building a couple years ago after meeting in rented space for 14 years. As a church board, we talked about what that would mean, the commitment we're making to remain Nazarene, etc. Only a handful of folks in our church (out of 85-100) have any Nazarene background at all, though most have prior church experiences of some sort. So it means some extra work on my part.
    I'm way out of my area on this as I'm four generations Nazarene and both the churches I've pastored are very Nazarene so the idea of leaving the denomination has never even been mentioned in passing. (I thought seriously about it for awhile during the scandals and the inerrancy issue but I was never going to take the church with me) My tendency is to think this is more of an issue with church plants. You may remember that my district had a church plant that exploded with growth to over 2000 people but then left the denomination. That church and mine share ministry area and I got to deal with some of the fallout from people who felt betrayed although the vast majority of people who attended had no idea it was associated with Nazarene. The early sacrificial givers and volunteers that did all the hard work to dig it out were all Nazarenes. I was glad my dad did not live to see it leave the denomination. They had given significantly (at least for them) to getting it going.
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    Re: Denomination wants building back

    Quote Originally Posted by Craig Laughlin View Post
    I agree it is largely up to pastors. There are fewer and fewer people who consider themselves Nazarene more than local church members. My struggle is always what does connectional look like in my environment? I tend to come down on theology, accountability and extending the reach of our church mostly compassionate ministries and missions.

    My difficulty is the culture/reputation/behavior of Nazarenes. Just last Sunday I found myself apologizing for Nazarene's because a couple in my church that travels a lot decided to visit a small Nazarene church while on vacation. They are both big personalities, dress very well and look very cosmopolitan. They had only heard my version of Nazarene and they got the shock of their lives. Evidently they had time warped to 1950. Add to that public scandals and the fact that both the baptists and the Lutherans in my community think we are a cult... We are about to distance ourselves in terms of marketing with a name change. I love my church but they do make it hard sometimes.

    I really don't think "connectional" can look like it did when I was growing up but I'm not entirely sure what it does look like. If I'm really honest it was the culture that created the sense of connection and oneness among older Nazarenes. If all we have is shared theology, rules of accountability and some missional cooperation we probably are more of an association than a denomination, but you didn't hear that from me.

    There has been some pushback from old line Nazarene's in my church about our name change. The thing I tell them is that the new name reflects our mission and I want to be able to tell people what a Nazarene is, not the pastor down the street. There are some huge advantages to not starting the relationship as Nazarenes.

    I'm way out of my area on this as I'm four generations Nazarene and both the churches I've pastored are very Nazarene so the idea of leaving the denomination has never even been mentioned in passing. (I thought seriously about it for awhile during the scandals and the inerrancy issue but I was never going to take the church with me) My tendency is to think this is more of an issue with church plants. You may remember that my district had a church plant that exploded with growth to over 2000 people but then left the denomination. That church and mine share ministry area and I got to deal with some of the fallout from people who felt betrayed although the vast majority of people who attended had no idea it was associated with Nazarene. The early sacrificial givers and volunteers that did all the hard work to dig it out were all Nazarenes. I was glad my dad did not live to see it leave the denomination. They had given significantly (at least for them) to getting it going.
    Craig, this has been an interesting discussion to watch. I think its obvious to any of us what culture we live in. The thought that prevails here in South Texas is "watch what happens on the west coast and we will probably deal with some form of it here." Coming from the east coast here is in itself way different.

    On your comments above, I have two questions that I'm interested in. The first is, what was the shock that the couple ran into that you apologized to them for? The second is, what was the church that left and why? (I'm sure that is old news, but new to me)

  6. #46
    Senior Member Craig Laughlin's Avatar

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    Re: Denomination wants building back

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Bentley View Post
    Craig, this has been an interesting discussion to watch. I think its obvious to any of us what culture we live in. The thought that prevails here in South Texas is "watch what happens on the west coast and we will probably deal with some form of it here." Coming from the east coast here is in itself way different.

    On your comments above, I have two questions that I'm interested in. The first is, what was the shock that the couple ran into that you apologized to them for?
    There were several things that were troubling for them. The first was the "stink-eye" they got when they arrived in casual and loud clothes. Followed by the "you must be in the wrong place" attitude and pretty much leaving them on their own in a small church. They felt pretty shunned. Then you go into a hymns service which they interpret as not really caring about the younger generation. This was confirmed by the fact that everyone was past retirement age. Then the sermon was an old fashioned Holiness sermon that pretty much came down to legalism dressed up as super spirituality. - They couldn't get out of there fast enough.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Bentley View Post
    The second is, what was the church that left and why? (I'm sure that is old news, but new to me)
    The church was "Gold Creek Community" http://goldcreek.org/ As to the reasons for leaving that depends a lot on who you ask, there were a number of battles. It probably comes down to they were not really interested in being a Nazarene church and didn't have a very high regard for the Church of the Nazarene. In fairness there was also a lot of resentment built up on both sides. I thought we could learn a lot from them and didn't want to see them go but in the end I think it was probably best.
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    Re: Denomination wants building back

    Quote Originally Posted by Craig Laughlin View Post
    There were several things that were troubling for them. The first was the "stink-eye" they got when they arrived in casual and loud clothes. Followed by the "you must be in the wrong place" attitude and pretty much leaving them on their own in a small church. They felt pretty shunned. Then you go into a hymns service which they interpret as not really caring about the younger generation. This was confirmed by the fact that everyone was past retirement age. Then the sermon was an old fashioned Holiness sermon that pretty much came down to legalism dressed up as super spirituality. - They couldn't get out of there fast enough.
    Not looking for church name or even town, but can you tell what general part of the country they were in? I don't want to derail this thread so I will re-post on the other thread that I started before. But this hits the nail on the head for me in many ways. Thanks!
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    Senior Member Craig Laughlin's Avatar

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    Re: Denomination wants building back

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Bentley View Post
    Not looking for church name or even town, but can you tell what general part of the country they were in? I don't want to derail this thread so I will re-post on the other thread that I started before. But this hits the nail on the head for me in many ways. Thanks!
    To be honest I don't remember. This couple travels a great deal and takes extended vacations of several weeks at a time. I'm sure they told me the city but I was in pastor mode evaluating them for how much damage had been done. They were/are fine. They love our local church and don't really care about the denomination (a grace in this case) but they won't be doing that again.
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  9. #49
    Senior Member Billy Cox's Avatar

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    Re: Denomination wants building back

    Quote Originally Posted by Rich Schmidt View Post
    Yep. I agree. And we pastors play an outsized role in shaping people's perceptions when it comes to our local church and what it means to be part of it. You have a much tougher context than many of us, though it seems that you're just a few years ahead of where the rest of us are heading at some point. Our mission field is ever changing.

    I planted our church, and since we don't have "Nazarene" in our name, I have to do some extra work to make sure people know that we're connected, what that means, and the ways that it's a good thing. I have to occasionally lift up examples of the ways we're connected and say things like, "I'm so glad we're part of this global network of churches! It means that whether you know it or not, you're already supporting work among refugees fleeing the violence in Syria." Etc, etc, etc.

    While grumbling might start in the congregation at large, any serious conversation about leaving a denomination is going to happen among the leadership, both pastoral staff and church board. At that level, you'd better believe we have to be clear on property issues! We bought our first building a couple years ago after meeting in rented space for 14 years. As a church board, we talked about what that would mean, the commitment we're making to remain Nazarene, etc. Only a handful of folks in our church (out of 85-100) have any Nazarene background at all, though most have prior church experiences of some sort. So it means some extra work on my part.
    One thing that struck me in my church planting days was some of the misconceptions held by 'new Nazarenes.' The most interesting one was the idea that the pastor *owned* the church in the same way that a founder owns the business that he/she starts. As a result it never occurs to them that the founding pastor might someday leave to pastor a less exhausting congregation.
    "Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us wthout end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience."
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    Senior Member Rich Schmidt's Avatar

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    Re: Denomination wants building back

    Quote Originally Posted by Billy Cox View Post
    One thing that struck me in my church planting days was some of the misconceptions held by 'new Nazarenes.' The most interesting one was the idea that the pastor *owned* the church in the same way that a founder owns the business that he/she starts. As a result it never occurs to them that the founding pastor might someday leave to pastor a less exhausting congregation.
    Huh. I sure hope no one in our church thinks that! But maybe some do. I may have to bring clarity on that one at some point, just in case.

    I know that a few times in the past, when I'm talking about money/tithing/giving, I've briefly let them know how I'm paid: that I get a full-time salary from the church, that my paycheck doesn't change based on how much they give, that I don't work on commission, so an increase in their giving won't mean more money in my pocket, but it will enable us to do more together as a church, etc.

    I never thought to clarify that I don't "own" the church like an entrepreneur "owns" their business. Though, at this point, almost 17 years down the road, most folks who walk in our doors for the first time have no idea that I'm the founding pastor, so that thought might be a lot less likely now.

  11. #51
    Senior Member Billy Cox's Avatar

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    Re: Denomination wants building back

    Quote Originally Posted by Rich Schmidt View Post
    Huh. I sure hope no one in our church thinks that! But maybe some do. I may have to bring clarity on that one at some point, just in case.

    I know that a few times in the past, when I'm talking about money/tithing/giving, I've briefly let them know how I'm paid: that I get a full-time salary from the church, that my paycheck doesn't change based on how much they give, that I don't work on commission, so an increase in their giving won't mean more money in my pocket, but it will enable us to do more together as a church, etc.

    I never thought to clarify that I don't "own" the church like an entrepreneur "owns" their business. Though, at this point, almost 17 years down the road, most folks who walk in our doors for the first time have no idea that I'm the founding pastor, so that thought might be a lot less likely now.
    If someone's primary point of reference is celebrity pastors or megachurch pastors, they have no mental category for voluntary/involuntary termination of the pastor's 'employment.' You and I are aware that even a celebrity pastor can be fired (Driscoll??), but the average joe/jane doesn't follow these things as closely as we do.

    I doubt that the average person in the pew has any idea that the pastor can be terminated, let alone having any idea how that would come to pass. And I doubt that many pastors feel compelled to educate the people on this topic.
    "Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us wthout end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience."
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    Full Member Jeff Foster's Avatar

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    Re: Denomination wants building back

    As a Presbyterian pastor who recently led a congregation out of the PCUSA (with property) I should like to point out that this is only one of many such stories across the country. In almost all cases the local church prevails on the basis of neutral principles of law. The denomination's property trust clause cannot establish a unilateral trust absent some kind of supporting evidence in the local church bylaws, articles of incorporation, deeds, etc. Also, it should be pointed out that membership in a denomination and property ownership are two entirely separate legal issues. Whether or not a congregation decides to remain affiliated with a denomination is a civil rights issue under the First Amendment (freedom of association and freedom of religion). No court would ever attempt to force a congregation to remain affiliated with a denomination against their will. To do so would violate their civil rights. The courts (see Jones v. Wolf) have also determined that they are not qualified to intervene in doctrinal or theological matters. If they are forced to intervene in church property disputes they must limit themselves to the principles of law that apply to all citizens in such matters.
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    Senior Member Greg Farra's Avatar

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    Re: Denomination wants building back

    There was an Anglican church that split a few years ago in our area. It was a fairly affluent church and had just added a new wing to the building. There were two groups: the larger one wanted to remain Anglican but not as part of TEC (The Episicopal Church); and a smaller group that wanted to stay in TEC. The larger group was staying in the building, making the payments and bills, while the smaller church met elsewhere. The local diocese stepped in and insisted the larger group leave. They did, and purchased a building and is now a thriving congregation. Meanwhile, the smaller group couldn't afford the building so it is now on the market. It's an expensive building, and will be difficult to sell. As large as the mortgage is, TEC would have been wise to sign it over and move on, but they have been playing hardball with departing congregations. It's not as if the group was leaving Anglicanism, but wanted a different affiliation.
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    Senior Member Billy Cox's Avatar

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    Re: Denomination wants building back

    Quote Originally Posted by Greg Farra View Post
    The local diocese stepped in and insisted the larger group leave. They did, and purchased a building and is now a thriving congregation. Meanwhile, the smaller group couldn't afford the building so it is now on the market. It's an expensive building, and will be difficult to sell. As large as the mortgage is, TEC would have been wise to sign it over and move on, but they have been playing hardball with departing congregations.
    So it's settled. The Nazarenes aren't the only ones inept in matters of filthy mammon.
    "Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us wthout end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience."
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    Senior Member Craig Laughlin's Avatar

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    Re: Denomination wants building back

    Quote Originally Posted by Billy Cox View Post
    So it's settled. The Nazarenes aren't the only ones inept in matters of filthy mammon.
    Not to defend our competency in these matters but... on our district the church that left was very large with a very large building and an accompanying very large debt. We decided they could leave and keep both the building and the debt. Kind of what Bud said awhile back, we've never lost a building we wanted to keep. You can't really make a congregation stay in the denomination, only a building.
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    Host Theology Forum David Graham's Avatar

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    Re: Denomination wants building back

    Quote Originally Posted by Craig Laughlin View Post
    Not to defend our competency in these matters but... on our district the church that left was very large with a very large building and an accompanying very large debt. We decided they could leave and keep both the building and the debt. Kind of what Bud said awhile back, we've never lost a building we wanted to keep. You can't really make a congregation stay in the denomination, only a building.
    I believe that this would be true right across the board denominationally......and it saddens me, that in the end, property and money is more valuable than the people.

    I wonder if the amount of time and money that is often invested in legal teams were to be spent in the processes of determined reconciliation whether anyone would even want to consider leaving at all? In the few cases of which I am aware of where the local church wanted to leave a denomination, there were lots of "good people" on both sides, and the issues which divided them could have been resolved if a determined effort had been made to reconcile. But, that didn't happen and antagonism developed instead to the loss of some credibility (I think) on both sides.

    So, I guess the question for me has always been about what do we value the most?

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    Full Member Jeff Foster's Avatar

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    Re: Denomination wants building back

    Quote Originally Posted by David Graham View Post
    I believe that this would be true right across the board denominationally......and it saddens me, that in the end, property and money is more valuable than the people.

    I wonder if the amount of time and money that is often invested in legal teams were to be spent in the processes of determined reconciliation whether anyone would even want to consider leaving at all? In the few cases of which I am aware of where the local church wanted to leave a denomination, there were lots of "good people" on both sides, and the issues which divided them could have been resolved if a determined effort had been made to reconcile. But, that didn't happen and antagonism developed instead to the loss of some credibility (I think) on both sides.

    So, I guess the question for me has always been about what do we value the most?
    I think in the case of PCUSA it's abundantly obvious what they value the most. Primarily they value progressivism and the destruction of anyone who disagrees with it. Secondarily, it's about the money. The presbyteries will fight tooth and nail for any property that has monetary value. Many church properties (ours for example) are not worth fighting for because they would be a financial drain on the presbytery. The building is 100 years old and has limited parking because it's surrounded by a cemetery and is located in the center of town. Nice facility for us but not so much for anyone else.

    Of course I have observed that the impulse to fight over property varies greatly from one presbytery to the next. Ours was very gracious even to the congregations that did have multi million dollar properties. Thank God for them. Others (Greater Atlanta for example) are willing to go all the way to the Supreme Court, not so much for monetary gain but to extract a pound of flesh from any congregation insolent enough to stand against the progressivist agenda.

    As far as how it effects the CotN, your polity is far more connectional and hierarchical than theirs. Best I remember when I was a Nazarene pastor there was actually a trust clause in our deeds and we were not allowed to do much of anything without district approval. We had very little autonomy at the local church level (a little more than the Methodists but not as much as the Presbyterians) and we were fine with that. We had no desire to leave the denomination but knew if we ever did we would need the approval of the district church properties board to dispose of our property. The PCUSA doesn't have anything like that. All they have is one little paragraph that was inserted in their Book of Order after hundreds of years of assuming that local church property belonged to the local church.

    Anyway, I am immensely thankful to be free from all of that. We are now part of a movement (ECO) that is very clear on these matters. The locus of power is the local congregation. That's where mission takes place. The hierarchy, such as it is, exists only to support local churches in their mission and ECO has no claim to anyone's property. It is so refreshing to be part of a movement where everyone has a singular purpose, we all get along and no one wants to take anyone to court.
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    Host Theology Forum David Graham's Avatar

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    Re: Denomination wants building back

    Anyway, I am immensely thankful to be free from all of that. We are now part of a movement (ECO) that is very clear on these matters. The locus of power is the local congregation. That's where mission takes place. The hierarchy, such as it is, exists only to support local churches in their mission and ECO has no claim to anyone's property. It is so refreshing to be part of a movement where everyone has a singular purpose, we all get along and no one wants to take anyone to court.
    Good for you.... I'm glad your church (Denomination?) has that focus and allows much more autonomy and freedom to the local congregations to get on with the work of mission.

    We have a similar system to the PCUSA it seems, for some of our Presbyteries allow local congregations to leave taking their property along with their blessings, whereas for others.... well yeah, you know.... the proverbial bun fight.

  19. #59
    Naznet Owner Dave McClung's Avatar

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    Re: Denomination wants building back

    Quote Originally Posted by Craig Laughlin View Post
    Not to defend our competency in these matters but... on our district the church that left was very large with a very large building and an accompanying very large debt. We decided they could leave and keep both the building and the debt. Kind of what Bud said awhile back, we've never lost a building we wanted to keep. You can't really make a congregation stay in the denomination, only a building.
    Craig, I don't want to nit pick, but the very large church you mentioned didn't leave the denomination. There was a legal question about whether or not the local church was ever a local church as defined in the Manual of the Church of the Nazarene. The question was resolved by the WAPAC District agreeing that it was not.

    Although the church in question was counted as a congregation of the Church of the Nazarene for a number of years, it never complied with the Manual. Those who joined the church were not informed that they were joining the Church of the Nazarene. The legal relationship between the local church and the denomination was ambiguous. The ambiguity was resolved by an agreement that states that the church is not a congregation of the Church of the Nazarene.

    The end result is the same -- a congregation which was once counted as a local church of the Church of the Nazarene is no longer counted. But, for purposes of precedent, it is important to understand that the church did not "leave the denomination." It was a matter of clarification of an ambiguous relationship. For 99% of the members of that church, it was a "non-event."
    Thanks Bud Pugh, Bill Morrison, Craig Laughlin - "thanks" for this post

  20. #60
    Senior Member Craig Laughlin's Avatar

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    Re: Denomination wants building back

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave McClung View Post
    Craig, I don't want to nit pick, but the very large church you mentioned didn't leave the denomination. There was a legal question about whether or not the local church was ever a local church as defined in the Manual of the Church of the Nazarene. The question was resolved by the WAPAC District agreeing that it was not.
    I have no doubt that from a legal perspective this is true. However from a relational perspective it is not. The members of the WAPAC district invested on a very intimate level in this church and the emotional wreckage after the separation was widespread and deep. As I've said earlier this included my father (and many, many others) who gave what was a significant amount of money for them, in order to start this church. There was never a doubt in his mind or the others who gave, that they were giving to plant a Nazarene church. I also have folks in my church who put in lots of time and energy to dig that church out. They were all Nazarene's and believed they were planting a Nazarene church. There was really a lot of wreckage for them. I think I get the legal nuance but relationally, to say it was never a Nazarene church, is at best disingenuous.

    Confessionally, I'm pushing back a little here mostly because I've become concerned that the legal ramifications of things are increasingly trumping the relational/moral issues in our denomination. (I don't see a moral issue in this particular legal distinction which is why it works for a little push back.) In the last few years I've had multiple members of the clergy try to justify morally questionable (if not problematic) actions on the part of our denomination or local churches by saying either, it was legal or if we tell the truth we will get sued. It is a profoundly troubling trend in my opinion.
    It is not enough to be right, you have to be like Jesus.

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  21. #61
    Senior Member Greg Gates's Avatar

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    Re: Denomination wants building back

    Quote Originally Posted by Craig Laughlin View Post
    In the last few years I've had multiple members of the clergy try to justify morally questionable (if not problematic) actions on the part of our denomination or local churches by saying either, it was legal or if we tell the truth we will get sued. It is a profoundly troubling trend in my opinion.
    You're confusing pastors and politicians. The two terms are very different and should not be used interchangeably.
    Thanks Jim Chabot, Craig Laughlin - "thanks" for this post

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    Senior Member Greg Gates's Avatar

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    Re: Denomination wants building back

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave McClung View Post
    There was a legal question about whether or not the local church was ever a local church as defined in the Manual of the Church of the Nazarene. The question was resolved by the WAPAC District agreeing that it was not.
    I have my own opinions about this. Of course I am not privy to all the facts you have but I do have my limited experience with this pastor. To me it seems the district's decision could be aligned with how a judge would rule in this case, but is that the standard we want to use and how relevant is that to what is right or wrong?

    My history with this pastor started about a decade or more ago after I read a fascinating article in a Nazarene publication about his church and how they did not provide office space to their pastors or staff. I called the pastor (why are we not mentioning his name?) and he was interesting, to say the least, to talk to. The first thing he told me was that he had researched my track record and only called me back because he felt he could learn something from me. From there we had a great conversation about new ideas in staffing. My impression then was that he definitely was a Nazarene pastor pastoring a Nazarene church. But that was certainly not the subject of our conversation.

    My feeling is that he realized it was a good idea (financially and leadership wise) to get out before he built his building. It was a shrewd move on his part and my impression is that ever since the WAPAC district has been trying to spin the story to save face. Again, this is only my opinion and I have no facts to back it up. What members of this district say on Naznet about this case is interesting.


    The end result is the same -- a congregation which was once counted as a local church of the Church of the Nazarene is no longer counted. But, for purposes of precedent, it is important to understand that the church did not "leave the denomination." It was a matter of clarification of an ambiguous relationship. For 99% of the members of that church, it was a "non-event."
    I've got a growing congregation with fewer members every year that are aware of our Nazarene connection. Is it possible that the WAPAC precedent would allow us to separate ourselves from the denomination?
    Thanks Jim Chabot - "thanks" for this post

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    Senior Member Craig Laughlin's Avatar

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    Re: Denomination wants building back

    Quote Originally Posted by Greg Gates View Post
    You're confusing pastors and politicians. The two terms are very different and should not be used interchangeably.
    Boy do I wish I was.
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    Thanks Jim Chabot, John Kennedy - "thanks" for this post

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    Senior Member Billy Cox's Avatar

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    Re: Denomination wants building back

    Quote Originally Posted by Greg Gates View Post
    I've got a growing congregation with fewer members every year that are aware of our Nazarene connection. Is it possible that the WAPAC precedent would allow us to separate ourselves from the denomination?
    Yes, what it comes down to is if a large enough chunk of a congregation has little or no affinity with the CotN and sees a strategic advantage in jettisoning denominational overhead, there isn't much that the denomination can do to prevent them from retaining the building and its contents.

    It's important to remember that the denomination is in the consolidation phase of the 'business cycle', meaning that it doesn't have the resources to sue every rebellious congregation that wants to go it alone. This will be especially true as the corps of DSes retire and are replaced by younger, greener DSes unfamiliar with organizational hardball. Expect a lot of mis-steps and blunders as districts do what seems right - which typically pushes rebellious pastors/congregations out instead of keeping them in.
    "Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us wthout end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience."
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    Re: Denomination wants building back

    Quote Originally Posted by Craig Laughlin View Post
    Boy do I wish I was.
    No confusion - just reality. A pastor who isn't a reasonably good 'politician', in the sense of being able to work with diverse elements, probably won't survive. That, I think, is especially true in a denomination like the CotN that, regardless of Manual provisions regarding polity, is rapidly becoming de facto congregational (small c).

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    Naznet Owner Dave McClung's Avatar

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    Re: Denomination wants building back

    Quote Originally Posted by Greg Gates View Post
    I have my own opinions about this. Of course I am not privy to all the facts you have but I do have my limited experience with this pastor. To me it seems the district's decision could be aligned with how a judge would rule in this case, but is that the standard we want to use and how relevant is that to what is right or wrong?

    My history with this pastor started about a decade or more ago after I read a fascinating article in a Nazarene publication about his church and how they did not provide office space to their pastors or staff. I called the pastor (why are we not mentioning his name?) and he was interesting, to say the least, to talk to. The first thing he told me was that he had researched my track record and only called me back because he felt he could learn something from me. From there we had a great conversation about new ideas in staffing. My impression then was that he definitely was a Nazarene pastor pastoring a Nazarene church. But that was certainly not the subject of our conversation.

    My feeling is that he realized it was a good idea (financially and leadership wise) to get out before he built his building. It was a shrewd move on his part and my impression is that ever since the WAPAC district has been trying to spin the story to save face. Again, this is only my opinion and I have no facts to back it up. What members of this district say on Naznet about this case is interesting.



    I've got a growing congregation with fewer members every year that are aware of our Nazarene connection. Is it possible that the WAPAC precedent would allow us to separate ourselves from the denomination?
    There were other factors that would distinguish Gold Creek from your congregation. In my opinion, the Gold Creek situation was unique. It can't be used as a precedent because the situation can not be duplicated.
    Thanks Greg Gates - "thanks" for this post

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